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Anzac Day at Gallipoli-2015; Balloting- There is a better solution


Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Mr Snowdon, on 23 September 2012, announced that there would be a ballot for those wanting to attend the ceremonies at Gallipoli in 2015. The Anzac Ceremonial Site at North Beach could hold only 10,500 people and excluding the VIPs of 500, there would be 10,000 places, 8,000 for Australians and 2,000 for New Zealanders. These people would then walk 3.4 km up to Lone Pine for the Australian national ceremony there or even further to Chunuk Bair for the New Zealand national ceremony. The reasons given were security, safety, amenity and comfort of those attending and the need to ensure ceremonies were appropriate for the occasion. It was claimed that the Governments of New Zealand and Turkey were in agreement with this announcement.

The Governments in Australia and New Zealand then began a public consultation process to decide on the principles governing balloting process. The consultation also included the tour operators, both in Australia, New Zealand, UK [London] and Turkey [Istanbul]. These were attended in various numbers; in Melbourne I have observed about 50 participants took part and in Canberra about 10. The descendants were well represented in these meetings and vocal in wishing their claim to be recognised. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs [DVA] staff who conducted these public consultation processes were at pains trying to explain that there were up to one million descendants, 580 children of ANZACs landing at Gallipoli and 204 widows of veterans of the Great War. Hence it was a difficult process to determine how they could all be accommodated. Another comment made was to have representations from the relevant groups, including the descendants, such as: young people; other military conflicts in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan; organisations that assisted or spawned from ANZACs – Red Cross, Legacy, Salvation Army, etc; serving men & women, and a plethora of other interest groups.

No doubt the balloting process will be complex and difficult to administer. The potential issues include scalping, no-show, illness, group travel, accommodation on Gallipoli Peninsula [there are only 5,000 beds at present within 100 km radius], weather, traffic arrangements and others. Also there is the possibility of a large group of back-packers who will want to travel at the last minute from Europe or particularly UK where there are around one million expatriates. At present there are reputedly around 5,000 Australians who have booked or expressed interest with the travel agents. There are also three cruise ships planned to go to Gallipoli, with a total capacity of nearly 8,000 passengers which may be able to anchor off Anzac Cove and be part of the ceremonies via live link from the Peninsula.

The weather in the spring of Turkey at Gallipoli can be variable. However in the past 25 years, it has not rained on Anzac Day and if this happened it could be a show-stopper. In particular the walk up the artillery track could turn into a small muddy creek making it impossible to walk to Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair. At present, anybody who is not able to make this walk is provided with a transport; although even such a small number of people have great difficulty in accessing this service. If there is a heavy downpour either before or during Anzac Day, it will be a logistical nightmare to transport the 10,000 people up to Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair.

There are several other options developed since the Ministerial announcement made and these were possibly the topic of discussion when the Turkish Governor of Canakkale [Gallipoli] Mr Tuna came to Australia recently. The closer look at these options, reveal an interesting potential solution as shown below. The options so far include;

Option 1: The option presented by the Minister – i.e. 10,000 at the Anzac Commemorative Site at North Beach, who will then walk up to Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair, after the dawn ceremony is concluded.

Option 2: The de-linked option where all the ceremonial sites are occupied by people to capacity and there is no movement between the sites, except the 500 VIPs. The participants observe all the ceremonies via live link on large screens from their own site if the ceremony is not held at that site. The capacity of attendance can be increased to 20,000 with this option.
Option 3: Dawn and dusk option where Option 1 is replicated for a dawn ceremony and repeated for a dusk ceremony, thereby doubling the capacity of attendance. The capacity of attendance can be increased to 20,000 with this option.

Option 4: A combination of Options 3 and 4 where dawn and dusk ceremonies are held at de-linked mode, thereby increasing the capacity of attendance to 40,000.  Anticipated maximum attendance would be close to this number and hence all requests to take part at the Anzac Day ceremonies at Gallipoli in 2015 would be fulfilled.

In all these options, a ballot can be hold to ensure that likely attendees are provided with their choice and the authorities can allocate a place to each person. It is suggested that the above articulated Option 4 provides the best and the optimum solution for the following reasons;

1. There is unlikely to be capacity issue, hence all Australians and New Zealanders wishing to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime event can do so;

2. The security, safety and the comfort of the participants are not compromised. In fact, the security is enhanced where only the VIPs will be allowed to move from one location to the other;

3. The traffic management would be enhanced where the buses can be dispersed to the three locations and issues are minimised;

4. Any adverse weather issue, such as heavy rain, will not be show-stopper;

5. The facilities and amenities will be utilised twice thus making it cost effective;

6. The systems set-up for the event can be utilised without much alteration, making it easy to administer the process;

7. The need to wait in the cold overnight can be minimised by allocating places to people as well as some only experiencing the daytime event;

8. The Option 4 will be much friendlier to invalids, elderly, unfit and the disabled.

To think that the massive landing at Anzac Cove [i.e. invasion of Turkey] was planned in 36 days defies the complexity and many years of planning we have concocted for the Centenary.

Dr John Basarin

Research Fellow, Deakin Graduate School of Business & Project Manager, Gallipoli-2015

Email: [email protected] M: 0438055056

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